For Ryan, a native of Buffalo, New York, his first month of being sober has been an uphill battle. “To this point, it’s been quite scary,” he says. “I have to take things hour by hour and even minute by minute, but I know it’s going to take time.” This wasn’t his first attempt at staying sober — he’s been open about his fits and starts on Twitter in the past — but when Ryan tweeted about completing four days of sobriety on November 19th, he received some unexpected support from one of his 127,000 followers.
A 25-year-old Canadian man named Will responded to his four-days-sober tweet with extremely specific memes catered to Ryan’s sense of humor (his Twitter handle is @pissboymcgee, if that gives you any idea) and his sober milestones. “I’ve only really been active on Twitter for a year and found Ryan through the rabbit hole,” Will tells me. “Dude’s just a rock star, and he knows how to make people laugh.”
So when Will saw Ryan struggling, he wanted to reach out. “I’m not one to message random people online, but I know he’s a good dude,” Will says. “I wanted to make the guy not feel like he was going through stuff alone. I wanted to help him know he’s gonna get through it.”
With that in mind, Will started by sending Ryan innocent goodwill:
“I’d never really had an interaction with him before this,” Ryan says, but he appreciated the small gesture of heartfelt, albeit fleeting encouragement from a stranger in his DMs. Will, however, wasn’t done. He responded with a promise: “New Arby’s content for every milestone, something worth fighting for.”
To be sure, Will’s promise of incredibly niche Arby’s-based sobriety encouragement didn’t come out-of-nowhere. “I’ve really loved Arby’s since I was a kid and thought everyone didn’t mind it, but any time I’d tweet about eating it, people would be outraged,” Ryan explains. “So like a year ago, I started talking a lot about Arby’s as a joke.”
Soon enough, Will followed through on his promise, sending an Arby’s-Simpsons mashup to commemorate Ryan’s first few days of being sober and remind him what he’s doing it all for: Arby’s.
The Arby’s meme-based support was shitposting in its purest form, but it provided a vehicle for one internet bro to connect and support another. Case in point: On November 25th, when Ryan’s days sober entered double digits, another DM from Will was awaiting him. “I was like, ‘Holy shit, this guy is invested in me and actually seems to care,’” Ryan tells me.
Moreover, he adds, “It was the first time I’d gone double digits without substances in years. And so, oddly enough, seeing that meme in my inbox was really encouraging.”
“Personally, I haven’t been through any drug addictions, but I’ve had people around me go through some tough times with sobriety,” Will tells me. “We all have our own battles to deal with, and even though I’m just a random fella thousands of kilometers away, pain is pain. He’s fighting a good battle, and I respect it.”
Acknowledging the long road ahead, Ryan is thankful for every ounce of encouragement he can get, roast-beef-based memes or otherwise. “As silly as it might sound, every message along the way has provided real encouragement,” he explains. “Milestones are pretty difficult for me. I don’t exactly feel proud of myself the majority of the time, so to have other people express how proud they are helps.”
“I was addicted to a cocktail of drugs and that sort of thing doesn’t happen overnight, so I have to keep in mind it won’t get fixed overnight, either,” Ryan continues. “There have been a lot of people checking in on me and encouraging me to keep going, and I’m really happy that Will is one of them.”
Will certainly plans to keep the support — and memes — coming. “I’ll support the guy through the whole journey,” he says. And not just for Ryan either. “If anyone else needs a fast-food meme every now and then to have a little pick-me-up in their battle, I’d be more than happy to put one together,” he promises.